Nationals Fantasy Time

One of the reasons people are paying more attention to stats these days in baseball is fantasy. After several requests, we created a fantasy primer for the Nats. If it seems lacking in quality players, blame Jim Bowdon, not us. Assume when talking about where to draft a guy that the league in question has 10 teams, so each round has 10 picks. (Stats for hitters will be listed as AVG-R-HR-RBI)

Ryan Zimmerman

When mentioning the Nats, Zimm’s name always seems to come up first, perhaps because it’s nice to hear some good news. As a fantasy player, he is one of the better, towards the top of the second tier for 3B. After ARod, Cabrera, Wright and Aramis Ramirez it’s probably a free-for-all. Some put Garret Atkins up in that top group, but if Zimm can hit .300 they are much closer than people think. He probably can be grabbed as early as the 6th or 7th round in a draft without being too early. BP has him hitting .305-84-23-90, which may be a little low on HRs considering what he was able to do in his first season, and a little high on RBIs considering how few opportunities he may have to drive in runs. Also, he’s only going to get better over the next few years, so he is a legitimate keeper.

Felipe Lopez

Lopez most likely qualifies as SS in your league, and may qualify as 2B if Guzman plays (hopefully not), which is some nice flexibility to have. His power may be a bit overestimated but he can steal bases and hit for a decent average. He is Jimmy Rollins light, which isn’t bad for fantasy, with a few more steals and a few less dingers. Leading off will help his ability to score runs, as well. BP project him to hit .276-90-14-61, which seems accurate. They only give him 25 steals, though, and 40 is much more likely. Consider him a top 10 2B/SS for sure, and a bargain if you can get him after the 8th round.

Chad Cordero

The last player that qualifies as a top candidate in his position for the Nats is Lopez. Cordero is another “second tier” guy according to ESPN’s projections. He will lose some save opportunities as the Nats are predicted to have historically few wins. But 30+ is not a stretch, and he will have a low ERA and low WHIP, although he won’t have a whole lot of Ks. The big wild card with Chad is whether he gets traded away, and if he does, whether he is used as a closer. Teams have shown interest but Bowdon has asked for multiple top prospects in exchange, so it can be assumed if a team later wants him, the costs will be prohibitive unless they desperately need a closer (hence his fantasy value wouldn’t suffer). Without naming a round (because after 2 people start grabbing closers, they all seem to go) once the 6 or 7 superstar closers are gone, feel free to pick up Cordero.

Austin Kearns

Kearns is the best OF the Nats have, in terms of overall production and fantasy points. He is developing into a moderate power hitter, but his best asset – OBP, usually doesn’t count for fantasy ball. He’s still likely to hit well enough, and at least he’ll be batting behind Zimmerman, so he should have someone to drive in once in a while. BP has him going .272-22-78, but that power could still be developing. If your league has 4 OFs, he’s a definite pickup, ESPN ranks him at #52 in the position… but is he really going to be outperformed by Willy Mo Pena or Chris Monroe? Take the over on him and draft him in the neighborhood of the 17th round.

John Patterson

Patterson may be a bit of a fantasy sleeper this season. Although he is on the radar for most projections, ESPN has him ranked in the low 50s for pitchers. He will be better than that if he can pitch all season. He’s got the abilities as an Ace, he could have 175 Ks and post a sub-4.00 ERA. But it’s that health that’s the issue. Assuming he’s feeling good (and he is right now) he’s worth grabbing a little earlier than projected, something like round 18 or 19.

Possible Nationals Fantasy Sleepers?

The OF

Look at Church, Snelling and Logan in a month and see if they have anything to contribute. Despite our reluctance to praise Logan, if he plays all the time he could conceivably steal 30 bases… if you’re desperate for SBs, look and see if he’s playing well enough to swipe a few. Snelling and Church could both be developing into decent hitting OF, with some power potential. There’s never anything wrong with pulling a .260/25 HR guy off of the waiver wire (unless your league is small). And finally there is Kory Casto. With Logan’s injury (probably minor) it appears the Casto will be the starting LF for game 1. Casto is too young and power-deficient to be much help in fantasy at this point.

Nick Johnson

Poor Nick. Whenever he seems to be on a roll, he gets hurt. He had a great season last year, and he should probably be considered a top 15-20 guy in this hitter heavy position, barring the injury. The thing about him is, with the injury, nobody is going to pick him early. If they do, they’re not reading the news. And if they don’t, and you have room in your lineup, or a DL slot, stash him. If he comes back before the All-Star break he could still hit 20 HRs and will bat close to .300.

Pitching

There’s just not much here. The pitching staff seems to be more set than before, but even If Shawn Hill starts the whole season, it’s hard to see him with more than 10 wins and an ERA below the middle 4.00s. He is worth keeping an eye on, as is Simontacchi, Ayala, and Chico, just don’t waste any draft picks on them.

One final note

On Kory Casto. Since he looks like the big surprise starter for this team, he deserves a mention. He is promising, with excellent plate discipline, and while he will strike out a bit, he works counts and walks quite a bit, too. He has decent, although not too impressive power. As Casto is a rookie, let’s not get too excited. Last year’s incredible rookie class was most likely an anomaly rather than a future trend. If he can hit .270 with 15 HRs, that would be a pretty remarkable rookie season by most measures. It seems possible for Kasto, if allowed to play, that he can approach these numbers. Beyond this season, 20 HRs are not a stretch for him, 30 probably is. .300 may be possible as well. Is he the future of LF for the Nats? Possibly. Is he going to be a good quality player to have? It’s likely. Is he going to be an All Star? Probably not.

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